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Mother Wins BP Portrait Award 2013 for portrait of her 35-year-old son

Release date:
19 June 2013
Berkshire based South African artist Susanne du Toit wins £30,000 prize


ON TUESDAY 18 JUNE 2013 the winner of the BP Portrait Award 2013 was announced at the National Portrait Gallery. The prestigious first prize was won by 57-year-old artist Susanne du Toit, for Pieter, a powerful painting of her eldest son.


Susanne du Toit wins £30,000 and a commission, at the National Portrait Gallery Trustees’ discretion, worth £5,000. The portrait can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery from Thursday 20 June when the BP Portrait Award 2013 exhibition opens to the public.


The second prize of £10,000 went to Coventry-based artist and teacher John Devane, 58, for The Uncertain Time, a striking group portrait depicting his children Lucy, Laura and Louis.


The BP Young Artist Award of £7,000 for the work of a selected entrant aged between 18 and 30 has been won by Owen Normand for Das Berliner Zimmer (The Berlin Room).


First Prize: Susanne du Toit (05.03.1955) for Pieter (1080 x 830mm, oil on canvas)


Educated at the University of Pretoria and the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, Susanne du Toit is an artist now based in Crowthorne, Berkshire. She has won for her portrait of her eldest son Pieter, aged 35. The sitting took place in the artist’s studio, as part of a series of portraits of her family. Susanne du Toit says she allowed Pieter to find his own pose, with the condition that his hands would appear prominently in the composition – she says she has always found hands essential to communicating personality. ‘I look to the body to provide as much expression as the face’, she says. ‘Having said that, the averted gaze of this portrait, which was his choice, struck me as characteristic of his reflective character, and became intensely engaging’.  


Second Prize: John Devane (17.08.1954) for The Uncertain Time (1720 x 2490mm, oil on canvas). 


A painter who also teaches at Coventry University, John Devane, has an MA from the Royal College of Art. He has been shortlisted for his large group portrait of his three children: Lucy, 25, Laura, 20, and Louis, 15. Painted over three years, the picture sets out to show how children emerge from childhood and begin to assert their independence revealing something of their adult selves. He says: ‘The composition suggests an almost stage-like shallow space constructed in two zones with the three figures presented as if they are awaiting some kind of event’. The artist’s key points of reference are the works of Courbet, Chardin, Degas, Balthus and Samuel Beckett. This will be the second time John Devane’s work has been exhibited at the BP Portrait Award, his In the House of The Cellist was seen in the 1995 exhibition.   


BP Young Artist Award: Owen Normand (19.12.1984) for Das Berliner Zimmer (The Berlin Room) (oil on wooden board 370 x 280 mm)


Owen Normand is a Scottish painter and illustrator who studied at Edinburgh College of Art and who now lives in Berlin. Das Berliner Zimmer (The Berlin Room) is a portrait of his girlfriend Hannah painted in her bedroom in the German capital, where they both relocated nearly three years ago. Normand says the 'Berliner Zimmer' is unique to Berlin: the name for a long, dark room facing into an inner courtyard with just a single window at the far end. The painting was inspired by Hannah's connection to the city, particularly through her grandmother who moved there in the 1930s and still lives there today. The artist says he chose this pose because: ‘I found that the combination of Hannah's expression and the striking lighting created a sense of intrigue’.


BP travel award 2013 and 2012


The BP Travel Award 2013 winner was also announced last night. The BP Travel Award is an annual award to allow artists to experience working in a different environment on a project related to portraiture. It is open to applications from any of the BP Portrait Award-exhibited artists, and this year the prize has increased to £6,000. 


This year the BP Travel Award has been awarded to Bristol-based Dutch Artist Sophie Ploeg. Having studied Art & Architectural History at universities in The Netherlands, Ploeg, 39, won for her proposal to explore how fashion and lace was represented in 17th century art, as well as in modern applications. She will visit famous lace-making centres such as Bruges in Belgium and Honiton in Devon, modern lace makers and artists, antique lace collections and 17th century art collections, as well as to undertake literary research. Sophie's final work will be inspired by her findings and will be displayed in the BP Portrait Award 2014 exhibition.


The work of BP Travel Award 2012 winner Carl Randall is on display at this year’s exhibition. Randall travelled to Japan to journey along the Nakasendo Highway, following in the footsteps of the Japanese printmaker Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858). Hiroshige produced a series of woodblock prints on his travels which serve as an artistic document of life in Japan in the 19th Century. Starting in Tokyo and travelling to Kyoto, Randall has produced a series of portraits depicting locals along the route as it exists today, contrasting with life found in Hiroshige’s time. He says, ‘I have visited a cross-section of professions from old and new Japanese society - from salary men in office blocks, to farmers in rice fields; employees of motorway restaurants, service stations and roadside hotels.’


BP portrait award 2013 and BP travel award 2012


20 June – 15 September 2013, National Portrait Gallery, London, Admission free 

Supported by BP Press View: Wednesday 19 June 10am-12pm.


The BP Portrait Award 2013 received 1,969 entries from 77 different countries. Judged anonymously, 55 portraits have been selected for the exhibition (National Portrait Gallery, London, 20 June-15 September 2013). In 2012 the BP Portrait Award received 255,982 visitors. The Portrait Award, now in its 34th year at the National Portrait Gallery and 24th year of sponsorship by BP, is a highly successful annual event aimed at encouraging artists to focus upon, and develop, the theme of painted portraiture within their work. 


As part of BP’s support for a further five years of the BP Portrait Award, one of the world’s most prestigious art competitions, the First Prize has been increased by £5,000 to £30,000. This makes it one of the largest for any global arts competition. 


Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, says: ‘The standard of the BP Portrait Award 2013  is as high as ever, and congratulations go to all the artists, but especially to Susanne du Toit for her simple but outstanding portrait of her son.’


Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts and Culture, BP, says: ‘Once again I am amazed by the quality and variety of the work submitted. Every year we have treasures popping up in the entries and this year was no exception. I am are pleased BP continues to support this prestigious initiative and hope that the public enjoy viewing the paintings as much as the judges did in the selection process.’ 


For further press information please contact: Neil Evans, Press Office, National Portrait Gallery, London, Tel 020 7 312 2452 (not for publication) Email nevans@npg.org.uk


National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H 0HE. Opening hours


Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: 10am – 6pm (Gallery closure commences at 5.50pm) Late Opening: Thursday, Friday: 10am – 9pm (Gallery closure commences at 8.50pm) Recorded information: 020 7312 2463 General information: 020 7306 0055  Website: www.npg.org.uk Underground: Leicester Square/Charing Cross



The exhibition will tour to Aberdeen Art Gallery (2 November 2013–1 February 2014) and Wolverhampton Art Gallery (3 March–14th June 2014.)




 A fully-illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition and features an introductory essay by Joanna Trollope. The BP Portrait Award 2013 book will be published on 20 June 2013, and will include over 60 colour illustrations, price £9.99 (pbk). 


Family Trail


The National Portrait Gallery will be working with children's picture book illustrator Anna Hymas to produce drawings for a free family trail and a number of special exhibition labels that will offer a range of creative activities throughout the duration of the BP Portrait Award 2013.


BP Portrait Award: Next Generation


BP Portrait Award: Next Generation is an exciting project opening up free opportunities for 14-19 year-olds to creatively engage with portraiture through the BP Portrait Award. Young people will be able to connect with past BP Portrait Award winning artists, meet other young people interested in portraiture and create their own portraits through a series of programmes including Taster Sessions, Drop-in Drawing, Summer Schools and digital content including video interviews with artists and participants. More details will be announced in May. www.npg.org.uk/bpnextgeneration


BP Portrait Award 2013 – Overall Figures


Total number of entrants 1,969 (UK Entries 1, 223, International Entries 746) 


BP Portrait Award 2013 – Exhibition Figures (55 selected from total entry)


Scotland (2), England (31), Ireland (3), Northern Ireland (2), Italy (2), Slovakia (1), USA (5), France (1), Spain (2), Belgium (1), Israel (1), South Africa (1), Netherlands (1), Canada (1), Germany (1)


BP support for UK Arts & Culture:


In the UK, BP is a major supporter of the arts with a programme that spans over 35 years. In 2011 BP announced its investment of almost £10 million in extending its long term partnerships with the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Opera House, and Tate Britain over the next five years. Taken together, these agreements represent one of the most significant long-term corporate investments in UK arts and culture www.bp.com

Notes to editors


The BP Portrait Award 2013 competition was judged from original paintings by: Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London, and Chair of the Judging Panel; David Dawson, Painter and Photographer; Sarah Howgate, Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery, London;  Victoria Pomery OBE, Director, Turner Contemporary; Ali Smith, Writer; Des Violaris, Director UK Arts & Culture, BP 


The BP Travel Award was judged by Sarah Howgate, Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery, Liz Rideal, Art Resource Developer, National Portrait Gallery, and Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts and Culture, BP.